A meatless twist for your spring feasts

Fish, lamb, turkey and ham… Meat seems to take centre stage at spring gatherings, but what if you want to make a meal that appeals to everyone? Vegetarian fare can go beyond salads and include a variety of healthy ingredients and plant-based proteins.

Here are some meatless sides and mains to bring to your table:

Roasted red pepper hummus

Roasted red peppers add colour, flavour and vitamins to hummus — perfect for spreading and dipping pita wedges and veggies.


1 cup (250 g) Ontario greenhouse red bell pepper, roasted and chopped**
1 can (500 g) chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup (63 ml) lemon juice
3 tbsp. (45 ml) tahini
2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
2 tbsp. (30 g) fresh parsley
1 tbsp. (15 ml) soy sauce
1/2 tbsp. (8 g) ground cumin
1/2 tsp. (3 g) ground red pepper


• In a food processor, add all ingredients EXCEPT 1/2 cup (125 g) roasted bell peppers. Process until smooth.

• Place mixture in a small bowl and add the reserved roasted bell peppers. Mix evenly.

**Roasting method: Coat peppers with a light layer of vegetable oil. Rotate peppers over open flame, either on a bbq or gas stove, until peppers turn black and blister. If an open flame isn’t available, a broiler can be used. Slice the pepper in half and remove the core, seeds and membrane. On a broiler plate, place peppers open side down and broil until skins are black and blistered. Cover peppers in a bowl and allow to restfor 15 minutes. Peel the black skin off.

Serves 6-8

Nutritional Facts per serving (% = % Daily Value)

(284 g): Calories 370, Fat 23 g (35 %), Saturated Fat 3 g + Trans Fat 0 g (15 %), Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 530 mg (22 %), Carbohydrate 34 g (11 %), Fibre 9 g (36 %), Sugars 7 g, Protein 13 g, Vit A (20 %), Vit C (150 %), Calcium (20 %), Iron (45 %).

(For more fresh dip ideas, see Ontario greenhouse dip trio.)

Greek Portabello Mushrooms

Ready to fire up your barbeque? This grilled mushroom recipe from 50PLUS.com reader, harbourwoods, has Mediterranean flare with feta cheese and roasted red peppers.


4 Portabello mushrooms, cleaned
and stems removed.
1 red pepper, sliced into 4
balsamic vinegar
minced garlic
cooking oil
4 oz. feta cheese


Combine minced garlic (to your taste), a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and cooking oil. Place Portabello caps into mixture and marinate for an hour or so.

Heat up the BBQ.

Baste four slices of red pepper with oil and place on grill, cooking until blackened and skin starts to blister. Remove from heat, place in plastic bag for a few minutes and remove skin. Place marinated mushroom caps onto grill, “gill side” down first. Grill for a few minutes with lid down, until they look browned and are tender.

With gill side up, place grilled red pepper strips and then feta cheese on the top. Grill with lid down until feta has melted. Serve warm


Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Vegetarian Moroccon Chickpea StewWith just a few spices and common pantry items, this exotic vegetarian stew can be pulled together lickity split, for only $17 (or $4.25/person)! Cooking time is less than 25 minutes and results in a flavourful dish that packs carbohydrates, protein and fibre.

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground ginger
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each, turmeric, cinnamon and chili powder
1 28 oz (796 mL) can diced tomatoes
2 cups (500 mL) vegetable or chicken broth
2 peeled sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup (250 mL) U.S. long grain white rice
1 19 oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 zucchini, sliced

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and chili powder. Cook until onions are tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with their juices and broth, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add sweet potatoes and rice; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Stir in chickpeas and zucchini and cook until rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings.

TIP: For meat lovers, add 1 cup (250 ml) chopped cooked chicken with the zucchini.

PER SERVING: about 480 cal, 16 g pro, 5 g total fat (0.5 g sat fat), 91 g carb, 12 g fibre,
0 mg chol, 1110 mg sodium. %RDI: iron 30%, calcium 10%, vit A 220%, vit C 70%

(Recipe courtesy of the USA Rice Federation. For more recipe ideas, visit www.riceinfo.com.)


Walnut Eggplant Parmesan

Walnut Eggplant Parmesan recipeReinventing a classic favourite, like eggplant parmesan, can be as simple as adding California walnuts into the mix. This unexpected ingredient provides a crunchy contrast to the soft, moist eggplant and the gooey cheese.


1/2 cup (125 mL) Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (125 mL) parmesan, grated
3/4 cup (175 mL) California walnut crumbs
salt and pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (125 mL) all purpose flour
1 large eggplant
4 oz (125 g) fresh mozzarella


2 cups (500 mL) passata
2 roma tomatoes, diced
Handful basil leaves, chiffonade
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil


basil, fresh


Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, and walnuts in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Place egg in another bowl and season with salt and pepper. Repeat for flour.

Slice the eggplant crosswise into 8 to 10, 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick rounds. Dip each slice into the flour, followed by the egg and lastly into the walnuts mixture. Press firmly to achieve an even breading.

Lay eggplant slices onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the centre oven rack for 15 minutes.


In a medium sized saucepan, add passata, roma tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic clove and olive oil and gently simmer over low heat.

Spoon desired amount of sauce over each eggplant slice and top with fresh mozzarella.

Place the eggplant back in the oven for approximately 5 to 7 minutes until the mozzarella has melted.

Garnish with fresh basil.

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

PER SERVING (1/4 recipe): about 490 cal, 19 g pro, 31 g fat (7 g sat. fat), 35 g carb, 8 g fibre, 25 mg chol, 783 mg sodium. %RDI: 27% calcium, 18% iron, 8% vit A, 17% vit C.

(Recipe and image courtesy of the California Walnut Commission. For more recipe ideas and information about the health benefits of walnuts, visit www.walnutinfo.com.)


Toasted Quinoa and Asparagus Salad

Toasted Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with orange juiceGluten-free quinoa brings a complete protein to the table with this meatless side dish.

2 tbsp (25 mL) extra virgin olive oil
4 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup (250 mL) quinoa, rinsed
2 cups (500 mL) Florida orange juice
1 cup (250 mL) chopped fresh asparagus
1 small orange bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper

In large deep nonstick skillet heat oil over medium heat and cook onions and garlic for 3 minutes or until softened and fragrant. Add quinoa and toast, stirring for about 3 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to pop. Add orange juice and bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in asparagus and pepper; cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Using fork, fluff quinoa and place in large bowl. Let cool slightly and stir in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/ GMVozd